The new Vacheron Constantin Armillary tourbillon perpetual calendar – Planetaria was introduced at Watches & Wonders 2021, and it flew a little under the radar. That was a mistake.
Astronomical watches have been a part of Vacheron Constantin’s line-up since 1884 when they released their first perpetual calendar that was integrated into a pocket watch. This makes sense with the theme Vacheron are going for this year, Classic with a Twist. And not just that, Vacheron Constantin have dedicated 2021 to “Le Temp Celeste” (Celestial Time) which means they are creating timepieces with reference to the astronomical origins of timekeeping.
The ref. 9820C/000R-B707 showcases the Maison’s astronomic and aesthetic complexity and this certainly puts astronomy at the forefront, but let’s take a look at that movement first.
The movement is the in-house Calibre 1991. This movement is extremely complicated with 745 components, and it is the result of four years of development. The movement spins two rotating globes on the dial that represent each of the earth’s hemispheres made from galvanically treated titanium. The sphere’s do a complete rotation in 24 hours and feature a day/night indication. The astronomical complication doesn’t even need to be adjusted before 2100. Not too shabby at all. The globes feature such minute detail that they are works of art in themselves.
They’ve really leant into the astronomical theme with centre of the dial bearing hour markers that are dedicated to the moon phases.
The tourbillon was an incredibly technical challenge for the Maison. The movement regulating device forms a sphere in perpetual motion. It was named the “armillary” in reference to 18th century watchmaker Antide Javier. Javier invented a moving planetary sphere known as an armillary.
What is amazing is that despite all these parts and complications, the watch dial looks very clean and neat. Everything has been fitted in such a precise manner that the dial doesn’t look busy at all. It’s definitely something to be impressed by when you consider many similar watches are very busy (though often purposefully so).
It all comes encased in a 46mm 18k 5N pink gold case fitted with a dark brown alligator leather strap. But don’t expect to get your hands on it anytime soon because this is a one-of-a-kind timepiece, and it has already been sold. So, for now, it’s simply there for us to admire.